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Sex Tape

Modern technology can be a wonderful thing.  The speed with which messages and photos are delivered is often mind-boggling.  Sometimes such occurrences can be dangerous.  ‘Sex Tape’ shows just how awry today’s technological world can be.  Based on several infamous celebrity scandals, it serves as a comedic warning that for certain occasions a camera’s presence would be most unwise.

 

After a decade together, Jay (Jason Segel) and Annie (Cameron Diaz) still love each other.  Parents to two children, despite their affection they feel the marital spice has gone walkabout.  Deciding to fix this by filming a sex tape, their very adult union ends up being leaked.  Becoming an internet sensation, they desperately try to retrieve the footage from the all-powerful Cloud network.  What follows is a series of mis-haps as their amorous coupling brings the joy to others they initially hoped to achieve for themselves.

 

‘Sex Tape’ makes a lot out of the chemistry of its leads.  Segel and Diaz make for a watchable duo as their characters attempt to right a very naughty wrong.  Most of the time it’s fun to watch with cameos by Rob Lowe and Jack Black adding some spark.  Unfortunately Jake Kasdan’s leaden direction drags the story.  Where more energy was needed it sags with the threadbare plot spread too thinly.  Another sub-plot or two could have beefed things up with certain sequences failing to reach their potential.

 

Despite its lurid title, ‘Sex Tape’ generally avoids diving into totally smutty territory.  It makes an attempt to be somewhat clever in creating laughs with the cast showing good comic timing.  A message about maintaining a relationships’ passion can be seen amidst the wicked carry-on.  This adds some substance to the silly script even if it doesn’t really engage as much as it should.

 

A fluffy movie ultimately reaching an unsatisfying climax, ‘Sex Tape’ is only modest fun.  Although more needed to be done with the material it serves as a warning that filming private encounters is something best to be avoided.

 

Rating out of 10:  5

 

 

Still Life

‘Downsizing’ has become the new word for economic rationalism.  Decreasing the number of workers for the maximum amount of saved dollars, companies have done this for centuries.  Employees who are left behind are forced to work harder in delivering the same level of expected service.  ‘Still Life’ examines this social malaise with skill.  Tightly scripted and directed it’s a fine drama looking at a person’s refusal to surrender to corporate interference.

 

John (Eddie Marsan) is a council worker whose department has been downsized.  His job is to contact the next of kin of those who have died alone on council property.  Facing the prospect of unemployment, he embarks on one last case.  When meeting Kelly (Joanne Froggatt), daughter of a deceased tenant, he is taken on an unexpected journey.  Learning to re-connect with life, his encounters change his viewpoint in unexpected ways.

 

Sensitive and interesting, ‘Still Life’ is an often moving exploration of loneliness.  In helping wrapping up the lives of those who died alone, John’s own introverted nature surfaces.  His forced redundancy serves to further focus attention on carrying out his duties with the dignity and professionalism his co-workers lack.   How his unswerving loyalty to the deceased never wavers is effectively driven home under Uberto Pasolini’s astute direction.

 

Making ‘Still Life’ work so well is its mix of drama and humour.  Both compliment each other without descending into sentimentality.  This allows for genuine authenticity with the character interactions and atmosphere.  The photography mirrors the initial bleakness of John’s daily life but soon creates more colour with the people he meets.  Marsan and his co-stars embody their characters well with Marsan showing his versatility with a rare nice guy role.

 

‘Still Life’ is a fine light drama showing how to embrace the most out of life.   Doing one’s best in the face of changed circumstances is something anyone should aspire to as ‘Still Life’ effectively shows.

 

Rating out of 10:  7